Asthma project launches in the mid north region of South Australia

In 2019, Asthma Australia, TACSI and the Country SA PHN joined forces to tackle the high rate of asthma prevalence.

28 November 2019

by Lucy Fraser, Senior Social Innovator, TACSI

Update: February 2022

After a year of testing the ideas co-designed by the local community, an Asthma Community Connector role was funded in 2021 and filled by Anita Stewart, a Peer Researcher from the TACSI project.

Anita says: “The project has really opened up dialogue around asthma, which has been really uplifting. So far, it’s been invaluable to me and the community of Peterborough, as we’ve been able to bring people’s experiences and innovative ideas together to find a way that works for us.”

A new health project

Based in Peterborough, Jamestown, Orroroo and surrounding areas aims to improve asthma control and reduce hospital asthma-related emergency attendance and admissions in the region.

Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman said the statistics showcase the need for urgent attention to asthma management in these areas.

“Asthma prevalence in the Peterborough District Council area is very high at 23.4 per cent in 2018. This is higher than the state average of 13.1 per cent, which is also higher than the national average,” she says. “In addition to this, Mid North hospital admissions for asthma are 45% higher than the state average in SA, which is the highest in the country.”

Funded by the Country SA PHN, the ‘Community Responses to Asthma in the Mid North’ project will see TACSI bring their expertise in community consultation and co-design to support the development of a new and more suitable approach to tackle this highly prevalent condition and reduce its impacts for the local community. 

“The project aims to work with a committed group of local community members with asthma and health professionals, to find potential solutions to issues impacting asthma management,” says Ms Goldman. “We’re really pleased to be drawing on TACSI’s knowledge and experience to do this important work.”

TACSI CEO Carolyn Curtis says the project is taking a community capacity-building approach to determine the issues, challenges and barriers for people with asthma in the Mid North.

“This project is not designed to implement interventions, rather the first phase will identify and explore possible interventions that are most suited to the community needs, highly likely to be used, and more likely to be successful – because they are owned by the community,” says Ms Curtis. “We are now looking for three local people to join the project as ‘Peer Researchers’, and other locals living with asthma who want to tell their story.”

The ‘Peer Researchers’ are casual, paid roles of approximately 10 days between now and June 2020. They will be interviewing people to explore, identify and understand what can be done to improve outcomes.

Country SA PHN is funding the program and Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mark Hartigan, said it’s important to listen to local stories and provide strategies and solutions based on community experiences and needs. 

“Country SA PHN exists to bridge the gap in health inequity in country South Australia,” Mr Hartigan said. “Exploring different ways for people to manage their asthma based on local needs helps us to do that by empowering individuals to more effectively support their health and become partners in their own care.”

“This program is a terrific example of this empowerment, which in turn increases the whole community’s understanding of their health,” Mr Hartigan added.

Read the Asthma Australia report: Community Responses to Asthma in the Mid North

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